If your vet has discovered something strange about your pet during their routine examination, they may recommend histopathology. This is a rather expensive and invasive procedure, so it’s important to understand exactly what a histopath is.

What is Histopathology?

Histopathology refers to the examination of diseased tissues. It is used to diagnose the presence and intensity of certain diseases. With this information, your vet can develop the most effective treatment plan.

The process begins with a biopsy, during which diseased tissues from your pet will be surgically removed. Removing tissues from the surface of the body may not require total anesthesia, but rather a local anesthetic under mild sedation. 

However, if the disease is internal, anesthesia and surgery will likely be necessary.

The sample is then prepared. It is first preserved with a chemical solution known as formalin. This prevents decay as the sample is transported to a lab. Next, it is placed in a block of paraffin wax where it can be sliced into extremely thin sections. They may also be stained with dye for better imaging. Finally, the sections are then placed on slides and then examined under a microscope by a veterinary pathologist.

The pathologist will communicate the diagnosis to the vet. The entire process usually takes between 5 and 7 days. 

Why Does My Pet Need Histopathology?

Many diseases have overlapping symptoms that cannot be easily distinguished as one or another. Histopathology can most accurately discover the type and severity of the disease. 

There is a long list of inflammatory, congenital, and cancerous diseases that are more easily examined through histopathology. For example, if your pet has a suspicious lump, it could be cancerous. An X-ray will only provide the size and location of the bump. In this case, the vet would recommend histopathology to determine the nature of the tumor and develop a treatment plan accordingly.

Histopathology is not always necessary. Some growths may be examined using cytology instead. This is a less invasive method of sample collection that uses a needle to remove cells from the mass or affected organ.

Furthermore, If your pet is in minimal discomfort, your vet may recommend against the histopath or cytology, and instead try a treatment plan for the disease they suspect is most likely. However, if they are incorrect, your pet will not receive the best treatment until later down the line. 

For more time-sensitive diseases, histopathology is the best method to ensure a quick diagnosis.

Is Histopathology Safe For My Pet?

Histopathology itself is a safe practice because it occurs on tissues that are already removed from the body. However, the process of removing the tissue is not without its own risks. 

Surgical biopsies can be quite intensive depending on the location of the affected tissues. The surgery and the resulting wound will require their own recovery process. Your vet will inform you of the best ways to keep your pet healthy and comfortable during this time.

Another risk to consider is the anesthetic. For older pets or those in weak condition, sedation might not be possible. Your vet will evaluate your pet beforehand to ensure he is fit for sedation. 

Diagnostic Testing For Pets in Frederick, MD

When your furry friend is unwell, you need a team of expert veterinarians to quickly diagnose the issue. Old Farm Veterinary Hospital can help.

Conveniently located in Frederick, Maryland, we provide a variety of state-of-the-art diagnostic testing for pets. With information on our side, we can effectively treat any disease your pet is suffering from. Call now to schedule an appointment.